Bolton v Oxford United: League One playoff final – live | League One

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Key events

70 mins: Dempsey is cautioned for taking down McGuane with a late challenge.

68 mins: Bolton need something soon. Even their fans are starting to sound a little flat.

66 mins: Murphy has another run through on goal as Oxford turn defence into attack with a superb pass down the line to the winger. He holds off Sheehan and shoots from a tight angle but Baxter does well to save.

Collins, Ogbeta and Sheehan are off, Jerome, Iredale and Adeboyejo on for Bolton. Final throw of the dice?

64 mins: It is another Bolton corner … can they produce a better delivery?

We will have to wait for it because Brannagan is down on the penalty spot looking pretty upset. His game looks to be over. McGuane, formerly of Barcelona, is ready to come on. Brannagan looks close to tears at needing to go off.

62 mins: Bolton enjoy some pressure in the Oxford box but they are completely unable to create a decent opening.

Evatt is having a long word with some of his subs. Looks like we will get a few changes soon.

60 mins: Brannagan has an energy bar as he walks to the touchline. Will that be enough to get him back out on the pitch?

58 mins: Brannagan is in pain and getting some treatment. They will want him to see out the 90 minutes.

57 mins: Murphy takes a deep free-kick from the right for Oxford but he swings it straight out for a goal-kick.

Moments later he races through goal under pressure from Jones, ensuring his shot is weak and slides wide.

55 mins: Bolton have another corner in front of their supporters. The fans are giving it their all, they just need the players to help them.

Sadly, Ogbeta lifts the corner straight onto the top of the net. They need better delivery.

53 mins: Thomason crosses from the byline and the ball hits Moore but it is not a penalty. VAR is in play today but does not disagree with the ref.

There is a little more life in Bolton in the second half. They know they have to produce something special.

51 mins: You would have to think that Bolton need a goal soon or at least force Cumming into a save to show they are in this match.

Dempsey chases down an Oxford defender and wins a throw-in in a dangerous position. This is the sort of attitude Bolton need.

49 mins: Maghoma is on the deck against receiving treatment. I think the ankle issue he suffered early on is still causing him issues and his game is over. More bad news for Bolton.

Maybe Dempsey can bring some much-needed impetus to Bolton.

47 mins: A loose bit of play from Jones ends with him taking out Rodrigues and getting booked. Not an ideal start to the half.

Second half

Here we go again! Can Bolton get back into this?

Peter Oh emails: “Is the Oxford shirt sponsored by Barry Glendenning?

“Are Bolton Stayin’ Alive?”

The podcast millions are being wisely spent.

Barry Glendenning’s podcast millions. Photograph: Zac Goodwin/PA

Half time: Bolton 0-2 Oxford

Oxford deserve the lead, Bolton have been completely unable to break their opponents down.

45+2 mins: Bolton reach the final third but like every other time, they cannot find enough space to get away a decent shot. Thomason takes aims from 20 yards or so but it is blocked by a sea of yellow.

45 mins: Five mins added on.

44 mins: You’d have to think Bolton will make a sub or two at the break. They have been seriously off the pace.

GOAL! Maghoma makes a mess of things in his own half, Rodrigues picks up the loose ball and plays it through the Bolton defence for Murphy to latch onto and the winger does the rest.

GOAL! Bolton 0-2 Oxford (Murphy 42)

The winger goes through on goal, rounds Baxter and doubles the lead.

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Josh Murphy takes the ball round Nathan Baxter to double Oxford’s lead! Photograph: Catherine Ivill/AMA/Getty Images

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42 mins: Long heads a Charles cross behind for a Bolton corner but Sheehan sends it straight out for a goal kick. Sheehan not having a great game thus far, which is a shame but he has impressed when I’ve seen him.

40 mins: Sheehan is taken down by Rodrigues on the halfway line, getting the Bolton man in the face with an accidental elbow.

38 mins: Bolton need to provide a bit more speed to their game to cause Oxford problems. All a bit slow.

36 mins: Brown tracks Collins’ run and gives away a corner with a fine challenge and Oxford have little trouble clearing.

Collins receives the ball in a good position in the box but he cannot control it and Oxford get rid.

34 mins: There is a delay to the restart because Harris needs some treatment but we are underway once again.

Bolton need to step things up, it would seem. They are still struggling to play the ball out from the back.

GOAL! Murphy cuts in from the left and earns a little space just inside the box and takes aims for the far corner. Baxter dives but he is deceived by Santos’ flick which takes it beyond the Bolton goalkeeper.

GOAL! Bolton 0-1 Oxford (Murphy 31)

Murphy shoots but it is deflected in off Santos. I am not sure if it is an own goal.

Josh Murphy lets fly. Photograph: Adam Davy/PA
Advantage Oxford! Photograph: Catherine Ivill/AMA/Getty Images

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30 mins: So little is happening that the commentators are now discussing Bolton sub Cameron Jerome.

28 mins: Collins is bodychecked by Brown. The free-kick is around 35 yards from goal but to the right. Bolton try to be clever but it works in no way whatsoever, although they do win a throw.

26 mins: Ogbeta gets down the left flank once more and swings in a cross but Moore is in the way. I am starting to imagine the opening goal will come from a cross.

24 mins: Rodrigues picks up the ball after Dale is fouled. He is allowed to play on and takes aim from 20 yards but whacks his shot over.

22 mins: Oxford’s setup is making it hard for Bolton to play out from the back. There is little space for the centre-backs to use and they need better movement in front of them.

Brannagan brings down Maghoma. The central midfielder is clearly up for this but he might be one more challenge away from a yellow.

Ogbeta swings in a cross from deep and for a split second Cumming is a little worried but the ball lands on top of the net.

20 mins: Charles has struggled to get into the game and when he does receive the ball, he takes too long and eventually gives away a throw-in when tackled.

18 mins: Bolton are starting to show why they are favourites. They a dominating possession but without create the threat Evatt would like.

Bolton’s Josh Dacres-Cogley holds on to possession. Photograph: Zac Goodwin/PA

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16 mins: Baxter just about beats Harris to a backpass and whacks the ball down the pitch, although it causes a few nervous seconds in the stands.

Sheehan has Bolton’s first shot of note of the match, pinging an effort from 20 yards which flashes past the post.

14 mins: Both sides a looking to play long balls to find wingers and quickly change the direction of attack. It could be a long day in the sun for wing-backs.

12 mins: Brannagan clatters into Ogbeta. It looks like Oxford are doing their best to show Bolton are in for a physical battle today and will not be bullied.

10 mins: Oxford are looking the more settled side in the early stages. Bolton have lost the ball a couple of times when put under pressure.

8 mins: Andy Hinchcliffe seems very eager to mention Bolton’s Toughsheet Stadium as often as possible. What larks.

6 mins: Goodrham gets the crowd going with some quick feet, defeating a couple of Bolton defenders. Oxford eventually win a corner but Bolton manage to clear the ball.

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4 mins: Evatt is having a word with a sub just in case in needs to come on. Maghoma is back on his feet but limping down the touchline while testing his ankle.

Not much early action of note on the pitch.

2 mins: Long flies into Maghoma as a ‘Welcome to Wembley’ challenge. The Bolton man is left on the deck holding his ankle but the Oxford defender got the ball. Maghoma needs some early treatment.

Kick off

Peep! Peep! Peep! Here we go!

The players are out on the pitch! The stands are alive with noise.

These two met in March when Bolton defeated Oxford 5-0. Will that make a difference this afternoon?

Des Buckingham: “This is the most special day. I grew up in the area.

“We stuck to what we have done over the past two or three months. It is about enjoying the present.

“When you come in mid-season, you do not have time to implement ideas, and it takes time to transition. We have tried to get better every week.

“We come here playing some good football and have earned our right to be here. We are up against a Bolton side but it is up to us to go out and show what we can do.”

Ian Evatt: “I think it is a different kind of pressure to last season when we won the EFL Trophy. We have worked all season for this day and it is a great opportunity.

“It’s huge, obviously it’s a massive club but in a cost of living crisis to have 30,000 plus supporters is amazing.

“The players have reset really well and both legs of the Barnsley games we played well.

“They are a confident group anyway. Last season’s experience is good because it allows us to know what works. We came down two days before, did the tourism things yesterday and had no phones today.

“This is our 61st game of the season, so to have time to have a rest plan and put together is a rarity for us.

“We almost lost this club, it’s been a long journey, we are always fighting against the history of this club. We need to be patient. We’ve had highs and lows, but hopefully more highs. We are in a shootout now.”

This is what they are playing for …

The League One playoff final trophy on display. Photograph: Alex Pantling/Getty Images


Bolton: Baxter, Dacres-Cogley, Jones, Almeida Santos, Toal, Ogbeta, Sheehan, Thomason, Maghoma, Collins, Charles

Subs: Coleman, Iredale, Forrester, Morley, Dempsey, Jerome, Adeboyejo

Oxford: Cumming, Long, Brown, Moore, Brannagan, Harris, Bennett, Goodrham, Rodrigues, Murphy, Dale

Subs: Eastwood, McEachran, Bodin, Browne, Stevens, McGuane, Leigh


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Hello! Playoff final season is upon us. An entire season comes down to 90 minutes (and possibly a little more) for Bolton and Oxford. For one team they get the glory of promotion and playing in the Championship, for the losers utter dejection and a summer of misery as they accept they have to do it all again.

Bolton have come back from the brink of extinction to move up from the foot of League Two to Wembley. Ian Evatt and the ownership have brought stability to a club that was dropping down the pyramid with alarming speed amid financial crises, leaving the glory days of Big Sam behind but now they have the chance to be in the second tier once more.

Oxford were last in this position four years ago but lost the final behind closed doors to Wycombe. They have seamlessly transitioned from Liam Manning, who left mid-season for Bristol City, to Des Buckingham, possibly helped by the two coming through the City Football Group school of coaching.

Unlike their last visit, Wembley will be rocking today with more than 60,000 expected inside for this match.

Let’s hope for a cracker!

Kick-off: 4.15pm

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